Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark – Nintendo Switch Review
Earlier this year, we reviewed Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark for the PS4, and now that it has been released on for the Nintendo Switch, we decided to check it out there as well. While tactical RPGs certainly aren’t for everyone, they do carve out a spot for themselves in today’s ultra-competitive gaming market, and that is no small feat. With the original release receiving mixed reviews, how does the Switch version fare? Let’s dive right in and find out!
I’m admittedly a fan of clichés – especially when they ring true – and nothing can sum up the Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark release for me better than ‘timing is everything’. I truly believe this to be an accurate description of the failings of this game. It isn’t that it is inherently a bad game, although the story feels awkward and the dialogue will take up more of your time than the actual game play.
The biggest challenge that the Nintendo Switch release of Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark faces (aside from its cumbersome title) is that it was released not just in 2019, where the oversaturation of games and ever-evolving entertainment landscape has made consumers more critical of each individual game, but at a time in 2019 just following the release of the AAA tactical JRPG, Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
It is impossible not to compare the two, given the similarity in genre, gameplay and release timing. And when this comparison is made, the results are not flattering for Fell Seal. While retailing at roughly half the price of the latest Fire Emblem title, Fell Seal just does not hold a candle to its competitor when comparing richness of story, visual quality, depth of gameplay, and replayability.
Upon first glance, Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark offers a passably enjoyable tactical RPG experience, with different classes, abilities and combat strategies for you to employ on your way to victory. There is no lack to the complexity of combat preparation, offering many different weapons, class trees and skills to choose from. The actual combat lags behind this, however, and beyond the surface cracks begin to open up.
You begin to notice shortcuts like not being able to actually visit the locations you travel to – you simply click it and choose to visit the shop or the guild and your characters are instantly teleported to the shopkeeper, whose inventory does not translate well to the Switch screen and is all but impossible to decipher.
The locked camera POV combined with requirement to point your characters in a specific direction makes for an awkward combat experience and overshadow the depth of abilities and tactical battles. The pixelated graphics make the game appear as though it was meant to be a mid-2000s release that was buried and then hastily pieced back together for release in 2019.
Overall, the repetitive, awkward battles and lukewarm storyline do nothing to boost this title to the level of its competition, and unfortunately not even the Switch release can give Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark a sense of belonging in 2019.